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A Streetcar Named Desire

Genesian Theatre Company

Genesian Theatre

April 2023


3.5 STARS


Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire is a story of social conflict which received a rapturous reception at its 1947 premiere. In his director’s note, Tom Massey makes reference to the heavy and evil themes throughout the play and their notable parallels still prominent in society today. Themes of sexuality and slut shaming, mental illness, domestic violence, and rape are woven throughout. Massey notes the importance in continuing to reflect on these stories to highlight the issues they raise.


Set in New Orleans post WWII, the work takes place in the home of Stella Dubois (played by Ali Bendall). Through set designer Sohm Apte’s vision, we’re invited into the family home where we see into the living room, bedroom and outside hallway. The home is dressed in 1940s décor; busy and colourful, filled with bold and kitsch furniture pieces. Susan Carveth’s costumes were beautifully curated, reflecting the era of the work and looked fantastic on stage. It was clear how much thought had been given to each costume choice; each piece highlighting and reinforcing different characters’ personalities.


Photos by Luke Holland


In this gorgeous, 120-seater, intimate theatre, there could have been better volume adjustment from the entire cast. A lot of the performance felt shouty and there were times when the balance between one performer singing and two others speaking made it hard to catch all the text. Michael Schiel’s music choice was brilliant; the soundtrack of jazzy tunes had an old and imperfect, record player sound quality and featured lots of muted brass – it reinforced the on-stage performance superbly.


The character of Blanche Dubois shows great transformation from when she arrives in a bubbly, charismatic state, to the Blanche we see at the end; a woman who is a shell of herself, broken and defeated. Georgia Britt’s performance started and remained at such an intense and highly energetic level, it meant she didn’t have anywhere to go in the climactic ending. What made her final scenes powerful however was her stillness and silence. Contrasting so greatly from the buzzing, shrieking, playful character we’d seen previously, her slowed down physicality, softened voice, fearful demeanour, and physical and vocal stillness juxtaposed the transformation so powerfully in this beautiful character choice.


In the role of Stella Dubois, Bendall delighted the audience. Her on stage chemistry with Britt made their sister relationship very believable and she made for a very warm and likeable Stella. Playing Stella’s husband in the role of Stanley Kowalski was RileyMcNamara. McNamara’s performance warmed throughout; it started as quite brash and one note, however evolved into a well-rounded and truly terrifying, believable character. MatthewDoherty takes on the role of Harold Michell; Blanche’s uncertain lover and gave a clear and readable performance. While the inconsistencies in his accent were at times distracting, his portrayal was genuine, nuanced and moving. Completing the rest of the ensemble, Rosie Daly, Patrick Gallagher, Shaun Loratet and JennyJacobs each reinforced the story with their performances.


Whilst the play itself is famously long, Genesian Theatre’s A Streetcar Named Desire challenges and excites the audience in an extremely engaging performance.



 

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